Funds limited for road repairs

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DEAR SUN SPOTS: Could you please find out how come they won’t repave North River Road in Auburn and put up guardrails? When I travel it, sometimes I’m afraid I’ll go in the river. Thanks for your help. — No Name, Lewiston

ANSWER: For an answer, Sun Spots turned to Nick Labbe, deputy director of Public Works for Auburn, who said he conferred with the city engineer to provide this answer:

“The city of Auburn’s engineering staff evaluate all 600 roads in the city and develop a list of priorities for repair. Part of this priority listing is determining how best to use the limited funds the city has to do road repairs and/or reconstruction.

“This particular road would cost an estimated $1.5 to $2 million dollars to reconstruct properly. Unfortunately, this cost would consume the majority of the city’s budget for road construction in a particular year. Combining the high cost to repair with the volume of traffic and number of residents living on the road/street, the priority for repair goes down.

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“The Public Works Department continues to make minor repairs to areas of this roadway. Unfortunately, this is most likely not the answer the writer is looking to hear, but it is unfortunately the way the city needs to manage its limited monetary resources.

“As for the guardrail, the Public Works Department requests money yearly for guardrail repair/replacement. These funds are also limited and sometimes not available. When money is allocated it, too, is budgeted based on a priority level.

“The North River Road is on the list for guardrail replacement, and the Public Works Department hopes to do some repairs this summer, but if another area of the city with higher traffic volume as well as higher speed limits has guardrails in need of replacement, it may move ahead of this road.

“I hope this answers your reader’s questions. Again, I am sure the answers are not what some folks want to hear, because everyone likes to think that their road/street should be the highest of priorities. But with hundreds of roads, thousands of residents and tens of thousands of vehicles traveling through the city of Auburn each day, we need to make the best decisions possible when utilizing the resources we have.”

DEAR SUN SPOTS: I was wondering if there is anyplace local that sells flex fuel? I have seen it in Massachusetts but have not been able to find it in Maine. — Lisa Howard, Ljaussiemom@aol.com

ANSWER: Sun Spots began by looking for a definition of flex fuel, which she found at howstuffworks.com: 

“About one-third of all gasoline sold in the United States contains some ethanol, typically in a ratio of 90 percent gasoline and 10 percent ethanol. E85 gets its name from the way it inverts that formula, at 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent conventional gasoline. … Only a fraction of the cars and trucks on the road are “flex fuel” vehicles: those that can run on conventional gasoline or E85 ethanol fuel.”

As for finding it, ethanolretailer.com (http://tinyurl.com/a7hnlra) offers a station finder. Sun Spots’ search turned up what you already knew: Flex fuel is available in Massachusetts, but no options turned up in Maine. 

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be emailed to sunspots@sunjournal.com.

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